Ask Dr. Marla: Blinking

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Why does my five-year old blink so much? I took her to the eye doctor, but he said nothing seems wrong; maybe the air is dry in our house. It’s driving me crazy. How can I tell if she’s just doing it out of habit or something’s wrong?

A. The first thing I would want to know is how long the blinking has been going on. Next, I would want to know whether or not there are any other behaviours that you have noted. As many as one in five school-aged children demonstrate tics that last less than one year.

The definition of a tic is a brief, intermittent, repetitive, unpredictable and purposeless stereotyped movement. While it is true that many children who are eventually diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome had eye blinking as their initial tic, they go on to have other symptoms that you are not reporting. While I understand your concern, this may simply be a transient event that will stop spontaneously. While your eye doctor has reassured you that there is nothing wrong with her eyes, I would suggest that you discuss your concerns with your family doctor.

Published in Fall 2009

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